Coached by the wisecracking New Yorker Jim (King Rat) Valvano, North Carolina State nibbled its way through nine postseason opponents by an average margin of 4.7 points per game and snatched the Big Cheese in Albuquerque. Lorenzo Charles buzzer-dunked Houston's Phi Slamma Jamma stunt-flying fraternity to give his Lotta Swattas a 54-52 victory in the NCAA championship game. "I told him in the time-out," said Valvano, " 'Lo, make believe anything that comes near the rim is a hubcap.' " The Wolfpack, which had tied for third in the ACC, finished with a 26-10 record, the worst ever for the national champ. Led by the 7-foot Nigerian, Akeem Abdul Olajuwon, Houston had soared in the rarefied air above the rim for most of the tournament. But against N.C. State, the Cougars taxied on the runway. At the buzzer, Charles grabbed an errant 35-foot desperation shot and stashed the game-winner. Frantically racing around the court for someone to hug, Valvano embraced Wolfpack athletic director Willis Casey. "He's old and fat," said King Rat, "but a hug's a hug." All Valvano had ever dreamed about was to see his team play on the final day of the season. Such was the dream that stuffs are made of.
IT WAS A CHANGE FOR A TIME
New definitions of time and space brought confusion to college basketball. Five conferences experimented with both a shot clock and three-point field goals. Four more had three-pointers and no shot clocks, and three others had clocks but no three-pointers. The shot clocks ticked from 30 to 45 seconds. Some were turned off for the last five minutes, some not at all. The three-point plays ranged from 17'9" to 22 feet, depending on which conference you played for and whether you measured from the front of the rim, the backboard or the middle of the basket. Jacksonville had an apparent game-tying three-pointer nullified because its shooter's feet were too big. Dolphin Tom Terrell's size-18EEE foot was judged to be on the stripe. "If I had been a size 12," he said, "it would have been a tie game." Another oddity occurred when Fresno State tied UC-lrvine with a late three-pointer, only to have the scoreboard operator register just two points. Misled by the incorrect score, Fresno's Tyrone Bradley fouled Irvine's Ben McDonald, who made two free throws to win the game.
For the sake of uniformity, the NCAA decided to count the three-pointers as two-pointers, meaning that Akron's nonpareil three-point marksman Joe Jakubrick, who at 28.5 points a game would have been the country's second-leading scorer, finished tied for fourth at 26.7. Even though scoring was up 3.6 points a game overall, all seven conferences that adopted the three-point rule before the season junked it afterward. Women's basketball began the season with the same old rules and ended it with a brand-new ruler, as freshman sensation Cheryl Miller led Southern Cal past defending champion Louisiana Tech 69-67 for the NCAA title.
Larry Micheaux Slamma Jammaed until N.C. State ramma-lamma ding-donged.
Terry Fair's foul play (he shot 2 for 9) was just one reason Georgia lost to N.C. State.
Coach Guy Lewis put a big load on the shoulders of freshman playmaker Alvin Franklin.
The Cougars' motto was Akeem, Asaw, Aconquered (right) until Valvano netted the title.
Michael Jordan (above) was a star in the ascent; Oklahoma freshman Wayman Tisdale starred sooner than most.
Chris Mullin's Redmen won the Big East despite the well-armed John Garris.
Backup center Charles Jones helped Tisdale keep opponents off balance.
"E-Z" Ed Pinckney and the Wildcats clawed past Lamar 60-58 to make Villanova one of four Big East teams to reach the regionals.
In the latest Game of the Decade, Virginia's Ralph Sampson and Georgetown's Pat Ewing locked planes and angles, and the Hoyas toppled.
Brian Kellybrew's Cardinals lost all their bounce in the tournament.